CHAPTER XII
THE FAROE ISLANDS

DICUIL, the Irish monk who lived in Francia and who wrote a treatise on geography in the year A.D. 825, is the first to tell of the Faroes, saying that they might be reached from North Britain if the wind were favourable after a voyage two days and two nights long. In these islands, said he, Irish hermits had been wont to dwell for a space of about a hundred years, but at the time when he wrote he supposed that men lived no longer there since Norse robbers had made it impossible for the hermits to stay. Only the sheep, he thought, and the countless sea-birds now inhabited this remote archipelago.

So there were Irishmen in the Faroes as early as about A.D. 700,1 and it was just about a century later that the visits of the vikings drove them forth, these newcomers doubtless giving the archipelago its present name of Faereyjar, Norse words meaning Sheep Islands. But the first Scandinavian colonist of whom there is record was Grim Kamban and it was not until Harald Fairhair's days, towards the end of the ninth century, that he came. In his lifetime he was a renowned person, and after his death the other settlers in the islands are said actually to have worshipped him, believing that his spirit could bring them good seasons; they were impressed, perhaps, by his Christian lore, apart from his natural wisdom and authority, for because his second name (Camman) is Irish it is probable enough that he was a baptized viking who had been directed to the Faroes from Ireland. Yet there must have been others of the early colonists who had learnt something of Christianity from Ireland or Britain, even though the majority may have been heathen who had migrated direct from Norway.

GRIM KAMBAN

The wealthiest and noblest family of the Faroe Islands were the Gateskeggs (Gatebeards) who dwelt at Gata on Austrey;

____________________
1
There is no papa element (see p. 339) surviving in Faroes place- names, but it may be that the first element of Baglahólm off Sudrey is derived from the Irish bachall, crozier. The name Dimon, two mountain, is believed to be of Celtic origin, but this does not necessarily date back to the pre-Norse period.

-328-

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A History of the Vikings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • List of Abbreviations viii
  • Contents ix
  • Contents x
  • List of Illustrations in the Text xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - The Lands of the Vikings 41
  • Chapter II - The North Germans 62
  • Chapter III - The Birth of the Viking Nations 78
  • Chapter IV - Scandinavia and Denmark in Viking Times 117
  • Part II - The Vikings Abroad 143
  • Chapter VI - The South and East Baltic Coasts 179
  • Chapter VII - The Western Empire 193
  • Chapter VIII - England 227
  • Chapter IX - Ireland 274
  • Chapter X - Scotland and Man 300
  • Chapter XI - Wales 323
  • Chapter XII - The Faroe Islands 328
  • Chapter XIII - Iceland 336
  • Chapter XIV - Greenland 361
  • Chapter XV - America 370
  • Select Bibliographies 389
  • Index of Authors 393
  • General Index 396
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